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Relatives abandon senior citizens at Kingstown hospital

Relatives abandon senior citizens at Kingstown hospital


The Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) is running out of bed space for persons who have seemingly been abandoned by their relatives, a hospital official told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday.{{more}}

Sister Margaret Edwards, senior nursing officer at the hospital, the nation’s main healthcare facility, is urging relatives of these persons to take them home.

“We are faced with a problem when persons are discharged, especially the elderly ones; persons do not come to get them. They are always coming up with some sort of excuse … They are just leaving them up to the institution…” Edwards told SEARCHLIGHT.

As a result, Edwards said, those persons who are discharged, occupy space for persons who have to be admitted due to acute illnesses.

“If you are left here and nobody comes for you, the next institution you go to is at the Lewis Punnett Home, which is also filled…” Edwards explained.

Edwards, who also oversees the Lewis Punnett Home, said there are 91 beds at the institution, all of which are occupied.

“Imagine you belong to a family; you left from a home and come to the hospital, why is it when you have recuperated, they can’t go back home? It is for family members to be more supportive and loving and to take care of their loved ones…” Edwards said.

She indicated that most of these persons languishing at the MCMH are senior persons. The situation, she said, puts a strain on the hospital’s staff to take care of these people who should have already been discharged.

At present, there are 10 such persons, mostly senior citizens, who should have already been discharged, who are currently occupying beds at the hospital

Edwards said the situation has become so difficult that persons who should be admitted to a bed on one of the wards, are automatically housed at the Accident and Emergency Unit, because there is no bed space available on the wards.

“These persons are just here because their families refuse to come for them. Some of them will come to visit, but when it comes close to discharge time, you not seeing them again. Sometimes when you contact them, they start to speak and once you mention discharge, you just hear the phone cut out…” she said.

She said some persons have given excuses, such as they are doing repairs on their house or they have to paint.

The problem has been going on for a “very long time” and is getting worse, the nurse said.

“They don’t ask anymore when their people are being discharged. If you only mention that, you not seeing them. It’s like they are just looking for an opportunity when the person becomes ill for them to be admitted and leave them there…” Edwards added.

Edwards was not able to give a financial breakdown of the cost of caring for one of these persons, but said it is quite costly.

“They have to get their meals three times a day. It is more sometimes for the older persons. We have to get pampers, and you can imagine the amount of other things needed to take care of them…”

What is most troubling to Edwards, is that these abandoned persons remain the responsibility of the hospital until or if their relatives return for them.

She said people need to be mindful that ageing is a process.

She further described the situation as “sad” and said persons need to treat senior citizens “well”, because they have contributed to the nation.

“When these persons are improved and they are ready to be discharged, they must show their willingness to come to take them back to their homes … the familiar environment is what those persons really need,” Edwards said. (KW)